Mangled 'dragon' fossils were cooked by ancient continents colliding to form Pangaea

One of the misshaped Keraterpeton fossils unearthed at the Jarrow Assemblage in Ireland. Its bones were likely warped by superheated fluids pushed up from the mantle during an ancient continental collision. (Image credit: Trinity Collge Dublin/Ó Gogáin et al.)

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Bizarre, mangled fossils in Ireland were likely deformed by superheated fluids that burst out from below Earth’s crust around 300 million years ago. The superhot fluids were released when the planet’s ancient continents collided together to form the supercontinent Pangaea, a new study shows.

The fossils, which mainly consist of a group of amphibian-like tetrapods in the genus Keraterpeton, were discovered in 1866 trapped within a layer of coal at the Jarrow Assemblage, a fossil site in County Kilkenny, southern Ireland. Keraterpeton were palm-size, salamander-shaped creatures with pointed, dragon-like horns, according to University College Cork (opens in new tab) in Ireland. The fossils date back to around 320 million years ago during the Carboniferous period (359 to 299 million years ago). 


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